A nine-year-old Australian boy has taken centre-stage at a major sporting event, days after a video of him in distress at being bullied captured hearts across the world.
Quaden Bayles, who is himself Aboriginal, led out an indigenous rugby league team in an exhibition match in Queensland against New Zealand Maoris.
Quaden’s mother said he had always dreamt of being a rugby league star.
Yarraka Bayles posted the clip of her son, Quaden, crying after he was targeted at school for his dwarfism.
“This is what bullying does,” she says in the video, in which her son also says he wants to end his life.
Now a GoFundMe page has raised 46 times more than its $10,000 target.
Over $463,243 has been raised as part of a campaign to send a nine-year-old Australian boy to Disneyland after a video of his deep distress over being bullied went viral.
The page was set up by US comedian Brad Williams after the video went viral to raise money to send Quaden to Disneyland.
Celebrities including actor Hugh Jackman and basketball player Enes Kanter have also spoken out, while parents in other countries have shared video messages from their children.
Jackman told Quaden “you are stronger than you know, mate” and called on everyone to “be kind”.
— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) February 20, 2020
Speaking at a press conference, Ms Bayles said she hoped her son’s experience was raising awareness over the effects of bullying.
“We are losing way too many people because of bullying, because of discrimination, because of racism. There’s so many factors of bullying,” she said.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare losing their babies and for me that’s my reality every day,” she said, adding that suicide attempts “are very real”.
“On top of that, being an Aboriginal boy with a disability, people don’t understand that’s a double-edged sword. There’s racism and then there’s discrimination because of the disability.”
The Viral Six Minute Video:
In the six-minute video, posted on Tuesday, Quaden’s mother describes the relentless bullying experienced by her son every day. The family, who are Aboriginal Australian, live in Queensland.
“I’ve just picked my son up from school, witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal, and I want people to know – parents, educators, teachers – this is the effect that bullying has,” Ms Bayle says as her son sobs.
“Every single… day, something happens. Another episode, another bullying, another taunt, another name-calling.
“Can you please educate your children, your families, your friends?”
An Aussie mum's strong message about bullying has gone viral and is breaking people's hearts. pic.twitter.com/RBmLUBxtQf
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) February 20, 2020